5,000 KI tablets handed out during program launch

(File photo courtesy of © CanStockPhoto.com/ieva)

Chatham-Kent Public Health officials are calling the initial distribution of KI tablets a success.

The potassium iodide (KI) tablet program was launched in late November. The tablets are designed to be taken during a nuclear event in order to reduce the risk of thyroid disorders should people be exposed to radioactive material.

It’s recommended that people living within an 80-kilometre radius of nuclear power plants keep a supply of the tablets handy. Portions of Chatham-Kent are within 80 kilometres of three different nuclear power facilities in the United States; the Fermi 2 plant in Michigan, the Davis-Besse plant in Ohio, and the Perry Nuclear Power Plant that is also in Ohio.

Dan Drouillard, a CK public health nurse, spent the last two weeks distributing the tablets to eligible residents in Wheatley, Tilbury and West Kent. Out of the nearly 4,700 addresses that live within the 80-kilometre radius and were eligible to receive tablets, Drouillard said about six per cent signed up.

**You can see the zones containing eligible residents below**

“We distributed just over 5,000 tablets to just over 250 addresses,” he said. “The response for that was about [what] I expected and pretty much in line with what they saw in Windsor-Essex of initial uptake.”

Drouillard stressed that the implementation of the project is not an indication that a nuclear event is any more likely to occur than usual and the probability of one happening remains unlikely. According to Drouillard, the distribution of the tablets is strictly because of updated nuclear safety recommendations.

However, he said during the distribution process he received a few questions from curious residents, asking why the tablets were necessary.

“There was a little bit of that, nothing too much. I tried to make that whole explanation part of the routine explaining to people what the pills were and how to use them as they got them… There’s nothing different going on at the power plants. We’re responding to recommendations from federal nuclear safety authorities,” said Drouillard. “People seem to be pretty okay with that when they picked up the tablets. I got a lot of appreciative and positive feedback.”

The program will be continuous and tablets will be available to residents on an ongoing basis. Drouillard said for anyone that may have missed the initial launch, there will be another chance to get the tablets early in the new year.

“We’re going to have annual communications plans to keep it on everyone’s radar and make sure people are aware of it,” he stated. “And, of course, ongoing access to the tablets for anybody that lives within the 80-kilometre area.”

For anyone who wants more information on KI tablets or the distribution program, Drouillard recommended getting in touch with the municipality or the Public Health Unit.

You can see more information about the tablets and how to order them by clicking here.